Luke and Laura. David and Donna. Jim and Pam. If TV soap operas and dramas have proven anything over the past few decades, it's that weddings make for appointment television. And, in recent years, reality TV has realized the power of nuptials, offering fans countless wedding-related series. Now, with wedding television programming at a fever pitch on networks like WE tv, TLC, and even E! (as much as we'd like to forget about Kim Kardashian's wedding special), fans are about to be subjected to yet another round of glossy scenes when The Bachelorette star Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum’s nuptials air as a special this Sunday on ABC. And as much as many reality TV detractors would like to roll their eyes, there's no denying the guilty pleasure has become a legitimate franchise.
But what's behind the televised wedding obsession? If you ask David Tutera, celebrity wedding planner and star of WE tv's My Fair Wedding, specials like Hebert and Rosenbaum's give fans the opportunity to live vicariously through stars' own dream weddings. “It’s truly about seeing the things that you just don’t get to see in every day lives,” Tutera tells Hollywood.com.
GALLERY: 15 Most Surprising Celebrity Weddings
Then, factor in the romance that appeals to our most intimate senses. “Everyone just likes a good love story,” Trista Sutter — who met her husband while starring on the first season on The Bachelorette and who then went on to have her own TV wedding special — says. “People love to fall in love. People love to watch it. That’s why it’s a huge ratings boost...The bottom line is that people love love stories."
And that's precisely why Hebert and Rosenbaum opted to televise their own wedding — for the fans. "I know for us, we went back and forth — we weren’t sure we wanted to do it," Hebert tells Hollywood.com. "One of the main reasons why we wanted to is because we had so much great support from people that have watched the show [The Bachelorette], that we kind of felt like it would all come full circle. And it kind of allowed people that spent so much of their emotion going through the relationship with me and with J.P. to really kind of celebrate and enjoy a happy ending.”
If you ever needed concrete proof that TV weddings draw in the masses, look no further than the ratings. Sutter’s three-hour wedding special Trista & Ryan’s Wedding attracted 17.1 million viewers to ABC in 2003, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And the franchise did it again in March 2010 when Bachelor star Jason Mesnick's two-hour Bachelor special, The Bachelor: Jason and Molly’s Wedding, pulled in an impressive 9.3 million viewers in March 2010.
When reality star Kim Kardashian and her basketball player beau Kris Humphries tied the knot in 2011, their two-part, four-hour marathon bonanza brought in 4.4 million watchers on the first night alone. (The second part of Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event averaged 4 million.) While this paled in comparison to the ratings the Bachelor weddings scored, it's clear fans still love a good celebrity wedding. Or any TV wedding, for that matter. In 2008, the Season 5 premiere of WE tv’s Bridezillas earned 1 million viewers, according TVWeek.com. By Season 9, those numbers quadrupled, with 4.4 million viewers watching the series, according to Lauren Gellert, SVP, Production & Development at WE tv.
Additionally, My Fair Wedding — hosted by Tutera (who has become something of a celebrity in his own right) — has attracted fans in the niche market. The series has grown from premiering to 710,000 viewers in Season 3 to 2.2 million viewers in Season 5, according to Gellert. Indeed, “Our wedding programming has done really well in the ratings,” she says.
The Power of Celebrity
Weddings themselves are enough of a sell for audiences. Add a celebrity into the equation, and viewers are racing to the TV faster than they hope to race down the aisle. “[Celebrities] just come with some fan base,” Gellert says. “So of course you’ll expect it to resonate throughout the viewers and beyond.”
Case in point: Bethenny Frankel, who built her empire off The Real Housewives of New York City franchise, landed her own nuptial-focused spinoff, Bethenny Getting Married?. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the premiere episode scored 2.1 million viewers. “It’s a voyeuristic approach. People want to see what celebrities do,” Tutera says. “These celebrity weddings are so secretive. We’re finding out about them when they’re over. Whenever we get a celebrity that wants to showcase their big day, it’s a bigger deal now because the celebrities are hiding from the press. So, when we see it on TV, these viewers want to see what they never thought they’d have an invitation to see before.”
GALLERY: 9 Boy Band Wedding Details
Some people even use these celebrity weddings to pick up tabs on how to throw a wedding. “I watched Kim Kardashian’s wedding just to get ideas for my own,” Zena Pinnella, a 25 year-old bride-to-be and self-proclaimed TV wedding fan admits. “I like that she changed her hairstyle three different times. I also like how she had everyone wear black and white. I thought that was very unique because most people can’t wear white to the weddings ... [Celebrities] always have a cool twist to their wedding or a unique idea.”
Entertaining Characters and Drama
But celebrities aren’t the only ones who offer ratings for TV networks. For shows like Bridezillas and My Fair Wedding, a lot of the success depends on non-famous (but still dramatic) subjects. “The one thing we focus on with every show are the characters within them,” Gellert says. “We go through extensive casting for these shows. We look at a lot of different options because you can’t put everybody who wants their wedding [televised] on TV. It’s really about the personalities.”
Plus, weddings always come with heightened drama — and an intriguing cast of characters. “In a heightened state of ‘I’m getting married right now,’ it really doesn’t get any more intense for people than that,” Gellert says. “We focus on the character and what they have to overcome every step of the way. Villains are constantly lashing out. It’s who they are, so we’re focusing on their drama and their tensions. Their tensions can be as small as an issue with a hair extension [or] a bridesmaid to as big as this season we actually had a groom walk away on the wedding."
The rawness of characters and their stories keeps viewers coming back for more. “[It’s the] drama that unfolds without it being planned,” Tutera says. “It’s real. It’s not forced. If something that’s got conflict, it is because it is really there. We’re not making it up.”
Tutera even tried to give his audience more of that authenticity on this season on My Fair Wedding. “I really wanted the viewers to see that the world of weddings isn’t this picture-perfect moment where the fairytale comes true,” he says. “I still give them a beautiful dream wedding at the end, but the journey from the beginning to the end has its bumps, has its challenges, drama, conflict, has everything that we haven’t seen in the past.”
Perks for the Stars
So why would anyone in their right mind actually sign up to appear on a high-profile series, allowing the world to scrutinize your big day? If you're going to have a white wedding, why not add some green? Sutter made $1 million alone for her wedding special while ABC footed the bill for the whole shindig and allowed the star to work with her dream wedding planner, Mindy Weiss. “One of the big perks was being able to allow my parents to celebrate without having to spend a penny,” Sutter says. “They actually got flown there. My mom was wearing jewelry from Tacori. It was kind of a fairytale for everyone else, and that was a huge part for me. That was a huge perk.”
Sutter reaped the benefits when it came to getting the perfect gown as well. “I couldn’t have personally called Badgley Mischka and said, ‘Hey, can you throw a private fitting for me?’” Sutter says. “I had private fittings with them. They had models in their gowns walking like a runway in their showroom for me; Basically [it was] a personal show for me. And then I chose different parts of their gowns to create my gown."
Not only that, but ABC let Sutter take the reigns when it came to planning her wedding. “They gave me full control over making the decisions over who was involved from the get go." While Sutter says ABC wanted the wedding to take place in December, they had one demand that was met: "It [had] to be somewhere warm."
Hebert and Rosenbaum were allowed the same freedom when planning their special day. "It was kind of all a collaborative effort," Rosenbaum says. "Whenever there was an idea that came up, we all talked about it and decisions were made in everybody’s best interests. There was never any sort of road block between all of us. They really wanted us to have the wedding of our dreams,” Hebert says. “We were relatively easy going. I was never the girl that dreamed about her wedding."
Perks For The Little People
While other shows may not pay their contestants, both Bridezillas and My Fair Wedding help pay for the weddings of the participants. “We’ve got brides brought in who have $5,000 weddings, and we’re giving them $500,000 weddings and getting there obviously because we have venders who want to participate,” Tutera says. “[It] gives the vendors on air time to promote their businesses. The incentives [the brides have] are that they get this incredible, over-the-top wedding. Many people get honeymoons, jewelry, beautiful fashion. At the end of the day, [it] is this dream wedding.”
Picture Perfect... Kind Of.
Still, there is a downside to all of the perks that come with television weddings. You have to cope with having cameras in your face... and, in some cases, coming face-to-face with your ex. "The one thing that was very awkward with the wedding day was they said, ‘We’re either going to have to be there 24/7 from the time you wake up, filming every single second, because we want to make sure we get all of it. Or, we can have someone kind of be a correspondent of sorts and be with each of you for specific parts of the day," Sutter says. "Charlie [Maher], the guy who was my runner-up, ended up actually being the guy who was our correspondent. They felt like it was a natural fit. That was definitely weird — but I didn’t want the cameras to be there every single second."
And the sheer number of cameras made Hebert and Rosenbaum nervous for their guests. "We obviously had other people involved in our wedding that had not been on camera before, so there was like a little bit of anxiety on their part that I wish I could’ve relieved for them," Hebert says. "I just hope that everybody was still able to enjoy it and not be anxious about the camera.”
Happily Ever After
In the end, those disadvantages hardly outweigh the benefits. “I would have been happy marrying Ryan on the side of our street,” Sutter says. “But it was a fairytale for me, my family, Ryan [Sutter’s husband], and my friends.”
Rosenbaum agrees. “There are very few people in this world [who] get to have a fantasy wedding, the wedding of their dreams. I think in 20 years from now, if we didn’t do it, we would look back and say, ‘You know what? We should have done it.’ We were given a gift and why not do it?"
You can watch Hebert and Rosenbaum’s wedding special when it airs on ABC Sunday night at 9 PM EST.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC]
'Bachelorette' Newlyweds Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum Reveal Baby Plans
Move Over, Trista and Ryan: 'Bachelorette' Ashley Hebert Headed For a TV Wedding
'Bachelorette' Couple Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum: Married!
From Our Partners:
Bar Refaeli Strips Down for New Underwear Campaign (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Kim Kardashians Best Bikini Moments (PHOTOS)
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The style queen bought the land as a 17th wedding anniversary gift for her man, Stephan Weiss, six months before he lost his battle with cancer - and he asked Karan to turn the plot into a family retreat after his death.
Opening up the Parrot Cay plot to Architectural Digest magazine cameras, Karan says, "He asked me to promise that I would build a house on the property for each of our three children.
"He imagined it as a retreat where three generations could enjoy total privacy but be together. For the kids, it has become a mini-resort. For me, it's a sanctuary where I go to create awareness."
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.